Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Announcement about this blog

I started Do the Hopey Copey when the present administration came in--I foresaw economic difficulties, especially for those entering the workforce.

And I was right, if I may say so.

Over the last eight years, I have tried to bring my own wacky home-grown experience as a former trade association executive (corporate) and writer (gig economy) to you. I also scoured the internet for useful advice on mastering the job market.

But my numbers are down. Most of the Hopey Copey readers are overseas (planning to "take our jobs?" LOL). No one ever commented. Does anyone care?

I also was finding my material mostly on or

In other words, this blog was languishing. So I am ending it.

You can check the websites I mentioned on your own.

I think the whole world is undergoing wrenching structural changes--in globalism, technology, and on the social side (religion, race, nationalism, etc).

Change is coming fast. You have to learn everyday to keep from being crushed under the wheels.

I have done what I could over eight years--now you must put my advice to use and I wish you luck and prosperity.

If you like my little stories and so on, I will continue my daily site HEALTH'Sass. Why should disease and disorder be boring and serious? Bookmark

See you there.

Oh--and PS. There are almost 2,000 posts on here--timeless advice, I like to think. I am not taking those down...

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Do you groan when someone says "meeting"?

Amy McDonnell, CareerBuilder, says many people dread meetings. The sitting, the rambling, idea-stealing, the showboating, the time away from "work," gag.

Want to pep these up and be a hero to your coworkers?

Ask for an agenda ahead of time. Just ask the meeting caller for a brief rundown on what will be discussed, Distribute this.

Ask on-point questions. How does this differ from what we decided last week? How long will this take? Do we have a budget?

Bring snacks. Even if it's some Kit-Kats, people will appreciate it.

Try the "yes and" trick. Everyone who talks builds on the previous person, saying, "Yes, and..."

If things stall or people argue, tryy to bring up a different perspective. Even tell a joke.

But then keep people on topic. Keep out pop culture gossip or limit it to the first few minutes.

And ALWAYS--establish what the next steps are. Alice, you are going to..." "Bob, remember to talk to ..." Let's meet again on Friday. OK--we're done."

When I had a "real" job, I realized pretty early on that some people LIKED meetings--they were like a little vacay from the tasks at hand and a chance to talk and one-up others.

No Kit-Kats for them!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Navajo math

Auckley planning a fun activity.
David Auckley, professor of mathematics at Kansas State, and Tatiana Shubin, professor of mathematics at San Jose State, co-founded the Navajo Nation Math Circles.

This project provides math activities and opportunities for K-12 Navajo students in the Southwest.

A documentary on this will be aired on PBS in September--check your listings.

Included in the outreach are visits by prominent mathematicians to schools, teacher workshops, a spring festival and summer camp.

Instead of paperwork, the project uses such tools as dice, Rubik's cubes, and puzzles involving traditional Navajo culture. It is a low stress, grade-free environment.

One lesson is you can keep playing even without finding the answer right away. A good life lesson.

The Navajos being served by this project live in the Four Corners area. Thirty percent have no telephone, 30% have no electricity, and 30% have no running water.

Yet, participants are succeeding in HS and going on to higher ed.

Now we need to do percentages--and lower those percentages of those without amenities. Maybe the kids who go on to college will have something to do with that.

Friday, September 16, 2016

We need to think about "elder orphans"

Carol Marak, writing for Twin Cities Public TV, defines "elder orphans" as older people with no spouse, kids, or companion to aid them.

She quotes one woman as saying she was alone with her dog and doesn't know where to turn--she feared becoming homeless and was scared to death.

Older people (take it from me) don't move as quickly, don't multitask as well, and don't adapt as well.

Marak started an Elder Orphan Facebook group. Check it out. It has 1,100 members so far.

Topics the Facebookers cover:

Legal and care issues. One couple said they had no "trusted friend" to oversee their financial affairs.

Affordable housing. A 69-yr-old, living on Social Security, was losing her mobile home because she could not longer afford it.

Transportation. One person got a ride to the hospital--but could not get one home. She had to be admitted because she could not get home.

Some locales are developing solutions to some of this.  The Milken Institute is working with mayors' offices to build awareness.

The best cities in which to be an elder orphan (Milken):

Provo, Utah
Madison, Wisc.
Omaha, Neb or Council Bluffs, Iowa (tied)

These rank high in terms of health care, active lifestyles, vibrant economies, and enriched environments. Still, even those have some drawbacks.

Sounds like good work--and a good use of Facebook.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Other trends that affect new professions

Could you fix this?
Yesterday, I posted on lifestyle behaviors that are spawning or increasing certain professions.

Today, it's technical advancements (again courtesy of CareerBuilder).


Apps and smart tech  -- Software developers are up 17% since 2012

Tracking online behavior -- Marketing managers up 10%

Technology now in every aspect of life -- Computer user support up 11%

Catching health problems sooner and extending lives -- Med records and health info is up 8%

Big data -- Database administrators up 9%

Incorporation of tech into everything -- Technical writers up 11%

Globalization has also supported some professions:

Diff time zones -- Customer service reps up 9%

Need for greater understanding of markets -- Market research analysts up 15%

Expanding business across borders --Interpreters, translators up 14%

Helping the world's environment -- Wind turbine techs up 37% (that's a turbine in the pix)

Maps for mobile phones -- Cartographers and photogrammetrists up 16%

Haven o idea what that last is--you better check. It may be your dream job,

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Lifestyle behaviors leading to new professions

CareerBuilder and Emsi recently studied occupations that are growing and the behaviors feeding them.

People are eating out more (foodies) -- Cooks, Restaurants up 16% since 2012

More embracing of the sharing economy -- Taxi drivers, chauffeurs, Uber up 15%

More health consciousness -- Fitness trainers, aerobics up 12%

More care with finances -- Personal financial advisers up 13%

More shopping or banking line -- Info security analysts up 12%

Postponing children -- OBs and GYNs up 4%

More trends and the occupations they feed--tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Star Trek--you were ahead of your time

Mun Keat Lool, writing in Nextgov, says Star Trek is 50 and in that time, many of its "far out" ideas have come to reality.

Some examples:

Tablet computers
Tractor beams
Flip communicators--badge communicators
Cloaking devices
Voice interface computers (Siri)
Transparent aluminum
Bluetooth headset (Uhura)
Google glass
Portable memory (floppies to sticks)
Focused ultrasound
Biometric data tracking (health, ID)
Automatic doors
Big screen displays
Real-time universal translators
VISOR (bionic eyes for the blind)
Diagnostic beds

Yeah, yeah, but where are the:

Beam me uppers
Moneyless society
Vulcan nerve pinch

Actually, my father mastered the Vulcan nerve pinch--for youngsters who acted up in restaurants.
And what about Spanx? Don'tell me Captain Kirk didn't have some "help" under those tight tunics.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Happiest states or states of happiness?

These WalletHub surveys about where people are happiest seem kind of silly to me, but for a Monday, something sort of positive.

They say they study markers such as emotional health, income level, sports participation, ad infinitum.

The 10 happiest states?

North Dakota
South Dakota

I see a lot of wide open spaces there. But Hawaii I get. Except it's expensive. But Hawaii also has the lowest rate of depression.

DC has the lower number of suicides.

North Dakota has the lowest long-term unemployment rate. Fracking?

Utah has the lowest rate of heart attacks (West Virginia has the highest).

In Utah more people volunteer than in any other state--due to the Mormon influence? It also has the lowest divorce rate--same question.

To see where your state stands...go to: https//


Friday, September 9, 2016

Is your math anxiety being visited on your kids?

According to a study in Psychological Science, children of highly math-anxious parents learn less math and are more like to develop math anxiety themselves if the parents help with the math homework.

The researchers tested 438 kids from 29 public and private schools in three midwestern states for math ability as well as anxiety. The parents also completed questionnaires.

The more the math-anxious parents tried to help, the worse thekids did, slipping a third of a grade level.

For instance--it is not good to say, "I am not a math person either--and that's OK."

One parent said she tried to disguise her anxiety by holding apiece of paper in front of her face, but ultimately blurted out, "What are these teachers thinking? Are they nuts?"

Um...not good.

Math anxiety may affect as many as 20% of adults.

Some parents do lash into it--even the Common Core math, which many find exasperating and certainly different than they were taught. One parent watched videos, asked for manuals.

She said she found math was getting easier. That's what studying will do for you.

I had to teach my daughter the multiplication tables. The school decided that was beneath them. I made flash cards--she learned somewhat. But I still think drilling in the classroom was best.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Four-day workweek--could be bad for you

Allard Dembe, in a piece reprinted from The Conversation, says a four-day work schedule supposedly gives employees more time for family, including caring for elders.

Of course, each day is longer. This saves companies money on turning on the lights when no one is there.

Amazon is thinking of an even shorter week--30 hours--but only for select employees, who would then be paid 75% of their salary.

BUT--before you get too excited--remember, there are still only 24 hours in a day.

Health issues can develop from working over a certain daily threshold of hours. A study showed that the risk of an  industrial accident is up 37% for those working over 12 hours a day.

Women working more than 60 hours a week (12 hrs a day), are three times more likely to suffer heart disease, cancer, arthritis, or diabetes.

And the stress--you are expected to do the same amount as a full week.

The longer day actually takes the parent(s) away from the after school interaction period with kids.

The author liked the idea of knocking off at noon on Fridays--this adds one hour per day to the schedule.

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Remedial college classes have mixed reviews

It's no secret at this point that many secondary schools do not send students on to college fully prepared for the work.

One survey shows that of students who started college in 2003-4, 68% of those beginning at 2-year institutions and 40% at public 4-year schools took at least one remedial course.

But do these help? This has been questioned for years.

Of course, students must complete these courses to get any benefit. Again, the numbers aren't great. Of students enrolled in remedial courses, only half of those at 2-yr schools and 60% at 4-yr schools finished the classes in which they enrolled.

But--the study showed that completing remedial courses did help weakly prepared students--they had a greater chance of completing their courses and transferring to a 4-yr school than their peers who took no remedial courses.

The benefits for more strongly prepared students were not as evident, though.

And, the researchers said, colleges need to look into why students don't finish remedial classes.

I wonder if by weakly prepared they mean students from disadvantaged school systems?

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

How I "age-remodeled" my bathroom

Pretty 90s? Plus-ouch!
As much as I write about aging in place, it never occurred to me that I would have to remodel my house to accommodate my arthritis and chronic pain--that was for other people. But I had a shower (above) that had a high curb--7 inches--it was agonizing to step out and try to get one foot down on the bathroom floor while bending the other knee to weird angles. I began to dread showers. Dread life. Dread everything.

And I needed grab bars--yes, grab bars--the trademark of oldies.

While I was chucking over the money, I decided on a complete makeover. Beautiful vanity, marble-topped, sleek floor level walk-in shower, a sophisticated color scheme of black, gray and brushed nickel.
I don't miss the beach theme.

Note grab bar across the back.

There is another grab bar opposite the toilet. Bliss!

Friday, September 2, 2016

What's a communications degree?

A young man doing some work at my house told me he is going to a job interview today at a big bank--sales associate.

He is at community college in pre-business/communications and asked me what a communications degree really was. Hmmm...After all my blithering on this blog, I kind of spitballed it. Part journalism--learn to write--part broadcasting maybe--social media--being culturally aware--psychology.

Would a bank want that or business? I am not sure...what do you think?

They didn't have this as a degree, at least I don't remember it, 50 yrs ago when I was in college.

I don't know if I helped this young man--or not. I also offered the usual interview advice, spruce outfit, firm handshake, listen more than talk but have some questions, know the culture. etc. Above all, appear to want the job--some enthusiasm, without overdoing it.

Still, I felt a little weak on this...

I don't want to take this too far--but I think the American culture--even the world culture--has changed away from print and toward electronic--people get their information, motivation, everything from listening and watching--or at least a lot of it. So those who can "communicate" are influencers.

Weird moment.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

More on extreme perks

I have heard that some startups and Silicon Valley types are cutting back on the weird perks, but Career Builder saw fit to list some the other day in a story by Mary Lorenz.

Apparently, some companies are OK with day drinking--with "Whiskey Fridays" or beer vending machines. They claim employees bond over a cold one--and are more creative.

Nap time is also OK with many companies, including Google, Zappos, Uber, and PwC. Sixty-one percent of employees, according to Career Builder, don't get enough sleep. The loss of productivity is in the billions--$86.9 billion, to be exact. (How can they be that exact--never mind.)

At least one company--Flowhub, which provides software for the cannabis industry-- allows edibles, sodas, and juices on the job. I recently saw a freelance ad that said "must be 4/20 friendly."

How about gender reassignment? Seven yrs ago, 49 major US employers offered transgender-inclusive health care--today that is more than 500 companies.

Paid sabbaticals are not just for college profs  anymore either,  Sometimes you have to pursue something useful or you may be able to get a shorter unpaid leave to do anything you please.

Concierge services! Dry cleaning, mailing, travel arrangements--handled my someone else...Sounds heavenly.

But not as heavenly as on-site massages. The companies that offer this see it as helping employees stay healthy

And, of course, dogs. No more petsitters or dog walkers--bring Bingo to work. And this is not limited to pet food companies.

Why do they do this? Well, cynical people say it's so employees won't want to telecommute or will stay at work for ungodly hours. But those are very, very cynical people.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Dissatisfied employees can cause trouble did a study of 1,609 employees--on work ethics. They compared employees who liked their jobs with those who didn't.

--51% of the dissatisifed people had stolen something from the employer--10% said it was something of significant monetary value. For satisfied workers, this was 39% amd 3% taking something of value.

--29% of the dissatisfied workers spent at least a half an hour on the internet for personal purposes--this was 22% for happy employees.

--18% of the dissatisfied would not tell on an employee they knew was stealing, compared with 9% of the satisfied.

--If the boss went on vacay, 16% of the dissatisfied would slack off, while only 6% of the others would.

You get the drift.

Hire wisely. By the way, 11% of the dissatisfied had been fired for theft or rule-breaking--while only 6% of the happy workers had.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Judgment of parents makes us scared to leave kids alone

Despite the occasional scare headlines of kidnappings and snatches, kids are safer than ever--yet many parents refuse to let them walk six blocks home from school or take a subway.

As kids, in the Wayback, we ran free as feral cats from after school until dinner.

A University of California Irvine study shows that we are now reluctant to let kids stretch their wings because this has become socially unacceptable.

In other words, said the author of the study, we have exaggerated the danger kids are in to justify our moral disapproval we feel for parents who violate this new norm.

As published in Collabra, the survey-based study showed that children whose parents left them alone on purpose--to work, help out a charity, relax, or meet a lover--were perceived to be in greater danger than kids whose parents were involuntarily separated from them,

 They set up five scenarios--from a 10-month-old child left asleep for 15 mins in a cool car in a gym underground garage to an 8-year-old reading a book in a coffee shop a block from home.

For each scenario, the reason for the parent's absence was controlling. One was an involuntary absence--mom hit by a car. The others were voluntary--work, charity, relaxing, meeting a lover.

Then they participants were asked how much danger the child was in--from 1-10.

Overall, they thought all the scenarios were quite dangerous--6.99 on average.

Those left alone on purpose were judged in more danger. This, despite the fact that the child left alone on purpose was probably in less danger because the parent probably took steps to give the child a phone or go over safety rules.

The parent meeting the lover was thought to have put the child in worse danger than the one who went to work.

In other words, moral judgments entered in to jack up the perception of risk.

The researchers said, at very least, those who enforce the law should not let this bias creep into the situation and invest it with the force of law.

Food for thought, anyway.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Maybe working at home is not best for Millennials

Meredith Bennett-Smith, Government Executive Magazine, Aug 24, 2016, says telecommuting is on the rise. Almost 40% of workers say they have worked from home at some point. That was 9% in 1995.

Companies tend to encourage this now--cutting office overhead and increasing productivity.

In ten years, in fact, new companies may not even shell out for offices.

Still, don't write off the "real" office just yet. Gathering people in a physical space provides intellectual stimulation, collaboration, and better time management.

Sometimes a text or email won't cut it..People face to face feed off each other's energy and enthusiasm.

People get to know each other better--get more interested in the work and the good of the rest of  the team. You can read body language. There is less miscommunication.

You can never get away from home--but you can leave the office behind. Or should be able to without escaping to someplace with no cell service.

When Marissa Mayer--CEO of Yahoo--banned telecommuting, everyone freaked out.

She said most people are more productive at home--but more coolaborative and innovative when they are together.

And she stuck to it.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Five bad interview habits

Excellent start.
Ladan Nikravan, CareerBuilder, says job searching is hard enough without screwing up (I paraphrase).

Some ways you might be sabotaging yourself:

--Negativity. I you think and "see" only the worst outcome, the interviewer may pick up on that. Also--don't be negative about former companies or bosses.

--Embellishment. Lying or exaggerating can catch up with you fast. Today's employers check a lot of sources, Recently in a CareerBuilder survey, 69% of employers said catching a lie was an instant dealbreaker.

--Bad body language. Don't fail to make eye contact, smile, and also don't play with something on the table or desk.

--Phone. Never check it during an interview.

--Homework. Employers can tell if you're interested enough in the company and job to check it out first.

Interest is good. I remember back when I was hiring people (when dinos roamed). If the person did not seem to want the job--didn't express this--I thought, "What the hey, I don't want that person."

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Warning--the Louisiana flood scammers are afoot

The Department of  Homeland Security says to be extra vigilant when donating to charities to aid victims of Louisiana's horrible floods (worse than Katrina).

Scam charities get right on it and send emails after such a disasters--these could contain malware. the Federal Trade Commission joins with DHS in warning about these.

--Do not open any attachments!

--Keep your antivirus programs updated.

--Verify that an organization is legitimate by calling a trusted number--check the Better Business Bureau's National Charity Report Index--google or go to

--Never assume appeals on social media are legitimate. Before texting money, confirm the phone number with the charity.

In other words--don't be a chump. People are not all good. Some, in fact, are lower than low lifes.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

No, no, no--not a good way to get hired

CareerBuilder has done its latest lists of no-nos for job interviews. We can use some comic relief about now, right?

--Candidate asked a priest to contact the hiring manager and recommend he be hired.

--Bought a first class ticket so could sit next to the hiring manager on a flight.

--Came dressed in a Halloween costume (hey, it was October).

--Asked the interviewer to share an ice cream cone.

--Sent embroidered socks with a message that he or she would knock the company's socks off if hired.

--Showed up in camp counselor attire--complete with children--to show leadership ability.

--Sent a shoe with a flower in it--saying trying to get a foot in the door.

--Mailed money to the interviewer.

--Arrived in a white limo, an hour early in a three-piece suit. The position was middle wage and strictly khakis and a button-down.

--Kissed the hiring manager.

--Wore a tie with the name of the company on it.

Me, I like the camp counselor gambit--if the job is as the Pied Piper.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Money issues can distract employees

When people have money issues pecking at them, it makes working more difficult.

Therefore some businesses are promoting the use of software called Your Money Made Easy.

Along with this, they put on seminars and training aimed at  managing personal finances.

Many people think about doing a budget and then it seems too hard and their minds drift to other things--but not necessarily to work...

In the US, half of the households are middle income--but only 30% of households with an income from $30K to $75K have any sort of a budget.

Result: pain, lost sleep, worry.

Your Money Made Easy ( is a Windows program that creates a framework for day-to-day management.

A company promotes it--the supervisors use it. Everyone is ecnouraged to try it. After the 30-day evaluation period, those who continue get reimbursed for the license fee.

People  in payroll or human resources are trained to help users.

Sounds interesting...I guess the company-based aspect is the unique part.

I would wonder how closely employees would want their fellow employees to be clued into their financial situation.

Monday, August 22, 2016

There are data scientists and data scientists

Ann Irvine, principal data scientist at Red Owl, writing in Government Executive, says the FBI is hiring its first senior-level data scientist. This might be more challenging than they think, she says.

Data scientists have wildly different backgrounds, skill sets, and responsibililties.

Even just at Red Owl, one set of data scientists prevents insider threats such as rogue trading. A second group works with customers. And a third contributes to the core software.

All have  knowledge of math, machine learning, and expertise in cybersecurity, good communication skills and experience in software development.

This is why the FBI or any entity needs to be clear in its requirements.

Data sceintists often need to explain what is possible with data science and what isn't. Could a certain type of data answer a certain question. How much would be needed? What types of algorithms would be needed? How will these be evaluated? What kind of mistakes could the algorithms make? Has this problem been solved before--and how?

As a first timer, the FBI data scientist will have to be incorporated into the culture.  Will he or she get easy access?

And the new data scientist cannot be overloaded--there must be an onboarding process.

I was surprised to learn the FBI does not have a senior data scientist, what with all the data they handle.

Friday, August 19, 2016

How many words do you know?

This is a toughie and has long been considered impossible to estimate.

But, now, in a paper in Frontiers in Psychology, researchers from Ghent University in Belgium used social media among other things to estimate that the average 20-year-old native speaker knows 42,00 dictionary words.

They devised a test that went viral on Dutch TV and 300,000 people took it.

Then they did the same for English and Spanish.

The English test has been taken by a million people to date.

They made up their own list of words--and saw how many people recognized them. The test shows each word and asks if it's a word or not.

As we get older, according to data also collected, we learn a new word every two days. (Not sure I do...)

They are also researching 200,000 people who speak English as a second language. This could have implications for teaching languages.

They are also expanding the English list to 75,000 words.

I don't usually bring politics into this blog, but I was joking the other day that Trump had to repeat so much because he didn't know very many words.

I wonder if  his invention, "bigly," was on the list of non-words.

In all honesty I don't think toughie is a word, either (see above). I probably make up a new word every two days, not learn one.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

What should "gig" workers call themselves?

I worked for 35 years as a freelance writer. I liked the "lance" part--a warrior fighting for good, persuasive prose. Often, though, the clients and others zeroed in on the "free" part--trying to get me to write "free" tryouts or come down in price because I was self-employed and supposedly did not have high overhead.

Sabrina Maddeauz takes up this challenge in a story in the
                                                            National Post (Canadian).

She quotes a 30-year-old celebrity photographer as saying freelance is a dirty word now--what you do between jobs.

Yet, the freelance economy is booming.  Freelancers can be anyone from a limo driver to a graphic designer.

In fact, this economy also is dismissed as the "gig" economy. Workers often make no benefits, wait to be paid, and are easily brushed aside as "amateurs."

Millennials, especially, are disrespected as spoiked jerks. They are seen as unable to survive in an office environment.

Freelancing is far from the easy way out, as anyone who had tried it k nows all too well.

Is there any way to improve the image? I used to say I was "self-employed" sometime. Or I was an "independent writer." A friend of mine who had a medical consulting company for many years, had a separate bank account for it, hassled with that, she had checks written to her company name--even though she was never an LLC or corporate entity legally.

I also used company names from time to time--don't know what difference it made.

All freelancers can do is stand tall, insist on their worth, ask for advances on jobs, don't beg, don't cringe, be assured and businesslike.

And be patient. I can't tell you how many people who dismissed me later went broke or died.

So take up that lance--you are hired in the cause of good.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

New medical schools opening

According to Sylvia E. Morris, MD, a former assistant professor at Emory and now a consultant and community health advocate, by 2025, we will need 46,000 to 90,000 new doctors.

Three new medical schools are responding to the call--in Texas, California, and New York.

The University of Texas-Austin, focuses on research and leadership and wants to make Austin a model health city. The initial class of 50 students began in June 2016. It will work closely with the University's business, nursing, and engineering schools as an incubator of ideas.

In New York, the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education will be part of City University of New York. This fall, 70 students will begin studies.

And, California Northstate University near Sacramento seated its first class of 90 students in the fall of 2015--mission more primary care doctors.

Some tips for potential med students:

--Practice MCAT questions daily in each subject. Even in a new school, you need to score high. Take a prep course or form a study group.

--Visit your professional school adviser early and often. This adviser can keep you up to date on new programs and opportunities.

--Update your application if you are reapplying. Ask yourself why you want to be a physician, reflect that in your application. Include volunteer and science or medicine work--such as being a medical scribe, mission work, or new achievements since your last application.

Many school have specific missions. Try to apply to those that suit your mission.

Another tip: Never compare yourself with other applicants...You are the only person involved in your application. For instance, never say, "Unlike other applications you will be reading, I delivered six babies while on a mission in Africa."

This is just a start. Applying to med school is an art.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Making ends meet

The end of the seemingly never-ending recession, stagnant wages--a lot of people are digging in the couch cushions for loose change at the end of  the month.

Ladan Nikravan, CareerBuilder, gets into this.

Recently a study showed that a sizable portion of the population would have trouble coming up with $400 for an emergency repair.

Three-quarters of Americans, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey, live paycheck to paycheck.

Nineteen percent of ALL workers, at all salary levels, did not make ends meet every month in the last year. Almost a fifth.

Sixty-eight percent of all workers say they are in debt. Most can manage it, but 16% have reduced their 401K contributions in the lasrt year and more than a third do not even have a 401K.

Of those in debt, more than half say they will always be in debt--from credit cards(64%), auto loans, mortgage, student loans, family loans, taxes, or other.

Some tips for retiring some debt:

--Stick to a budget. At least write down where your money goes--see places to cut?

--Save for emergencies. This means 3-6 mos of expenses in case you lose your job or your heat pump goes out.

--Develop a plan to consolidate your debt. Call your creditors--ask for lower interest, special payment plans, or anything they can come up with. Pay the ones with the highest interest first.

--Learn o manage your 401K. At very least, don't borrow from it.

Get a side job. Teach an instrument, write articles, help people write resumes, anything you can think of.

The last thing you should do is bury your head in the sand. That never improves anything. And you get all sandy.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Keeping minorities in science careers

Persistence is the watchword for undergrad programs trying to attract underrepresented racial/ethnic groups into the sciences.

By persistence, they mean translating initial interest into confidence of success, so the students "persist" in their quest to be in these fields.

A new paper in the journal CBE-Life Sciences education, done by researchers at the University of Wisconsin, says some variables relating to persistence are dubbed self-efficacy beliefs.

Among these is the confidence that one can do a task.

They studied 600 undergrads seeing if they could conduct independent research, prepare a poster or presentation, or were being mentored.

Funding agencies want quantifiable data that they will get a return on their investment--that the students will stick and persist.

African-American men self-reported greater anxiety about their research performance. The rates of this group attaining a degree have not risen in the last decade.

This is fine for defining persistence or lack of it--but how does an organization promote it?

Friday, August 12, 2016

How to counter gender bias at work

Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do, writes about gender bias in Forbes.

Men outnumber women in many businesses--such as tech startups and engineering firms. But women can survive and thrive even in these with the right techniques.

Morin says that men tend to dominate by the behavior, not just because of their XY chromosomes. Women who exhibit "masculine" traits such as aggressiveness and confidence tend to receive more promotions than even men exhibiting such qualities.

You can ask for a raise, speak up in meetings, not apologize all the time for everything.

In a 2014 study in the Harvard Business Review, women are much less likely to speak up in meetings--and are more likely to allow themselves to be interrupted.

Women should also be direct. Don't say, "I am not sure everyone will agree, but..." or "I hate to ask you to do this..."

If you do get a compliment--accept it. Don't say, "Oh, I got lucky."

Do you think women are less likely to be successful? This will come across.

Whether you wear a suit or dress, come across as confident in your outfit. Don't pull at it or adjust it.

Men network--they play golf, for example, or go to dinner together during conferences. They talk sports. You may not be as successful if you don't join in--or even take time from your family to go to Happy Hour.

And--stop blaming men for your lack of success. Pity parties do not change things.

This does not mean you need to hang out in bars, use profanity, or adopt the less attractive qualities of some males--it just means you need to be on the team, visible, strong, and productive.

And above all, know your worth.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Remember "informational interviews"?

"I am hoping to get into health IT."
These used to be big last century. I just saw mention of them again on CareerBuilder in a story by Amy McDonnell.

Where the job interview is aimed at getting a job--the informational interview is aimed at gaining information on a company, culture, industry, or prospects.

You try to talk an executive into meeting with you face to face to talk about the industry and get acquainted.

For the job seeker, the informational interview helps you lean about the realities of the business and expands your network.

You also improve your interviewing skills and may even uncover an unknown future position.

You find out what is most important to the employer.

BUT--you have to first get the executive to talk to you.

--Identify potential contacts first. Scour the internet, watch your social media, read local papers.

--Reach out appropriately. The first step is an email or phone call explaining your background and what you hope to gain. Make the encounter limited--say 15 mins.

--And prepare like mad. Research the interviewee, read all staff bios on the website, review company literature and annual reports. And finally, set up Google news alerts on the company for the most up-to-date info.

--Be on time, be focused, ask good questions, and leave a great impression.

Sometimes this can turn into a real job offer--but don't count on it. Be relaxed--and the interviewer will be, too--after all he or she is not under the gun to give you a job, just some face time.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Is a co-bot coming in your future?

Jason Karaian, Nextgov, August 4, 2016, says some Oxford researchers think 47% of jobs in the US are at risk of  being replaced by robots.

In developing countries, this may be only 10% but is still worrying for those places.

Both repetitive manual labor and higher-level brain tasks may be performed by machines.

The robot companies are trying to soften the fear by talking about co-bots--machines that collaborate with humans.

These same Oxford people are trying to figure out which jobs will put humans in demand in 2030.

To determine what skills humans will need--they asked robots. Of course.

This guy, Michael Osborne, and an innovation nonprofit called Nesta will run workshops this year with academics and futurists to look into the future of work.

An algorithm will cross-reference the skills they (and their robots)  think will be needed with a data-based of job-specific skills from the Labor Dept.

One thing they already think they know: Jobs of the future will require mixes and depths of skills that are currently rare.

Well, let us know what we should be doing...OK?

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Standing desk--are you using it right?

That's the latest--sitting supposedly kills you worse than smoking so you need to stand at work. I don't buy it--but plenty do and now these standing desks are "the thing."

Kathleen Hale, founder of Chair Free Project (, dedicated to getting people out of chairs, has some tips:

Get an anti-fatigue mat for your feet. These reduce pressure--you may want one for the kitchen and other rooms, too.

Ease into using your standing desk. If you are used to sitting, suddenly standing all day can be a shock. More more than two hours total at first. Try not to lock your knees.

Move. Even people standing need to take a break every 30  minutes and move. Take a walk, something.

Try a leaning stool. This sort of pitches you forward and can be great for rests.

Twist. Even though, you are standing, twist side to side occasionally.

Place your wrists correctly. Some keyboard trays can be an add-on.

Don't lean on the desk. Walk or twist or something.

You might like walking so much, you get a treadmill desk.


Monday, August 8, 2016

Adult learners on the rise

You know what they say--you are never done learning.

And I learned of a fun new site called Education Dive ( Check it out.

Anyway, writing on there, Jarrett Carter says adults are expected to grow as a major sector in the undergraduate scene in the next nine years.

This will require more flexible scheduling, new options for payment, and additional chances for business and industries to credential workers.

States like Florida, Tennessee and New York are working on legislation to induce colleges to recruit adult learners.

All of this will change universities for all. Schools will partner with large-scale employers to direct workers to training programs.

Some of this will be online and the rest on-campus.

I have said all along that companies need to be active in education and training--and not just hope students of all ages will come up with the gigantic investments to somehow meet their needs.


Friday, August 5, 2016

What if the boss steals your idea?

Deanna Hartley deals with this common issue in CareerBuilder. If the boss suddenly seems all confused over who did what or who suggested what and tries to take credit, what can you do?

First, do not run around telling all your coworkers. This could come back to bite you and your coworkers may start not trusting you.

Talk to loved ones only--your support system.

Pick your battles--Is this one worth it?

Seek the advice of a mentor. Maybe you can come up with a practical approach.

And--you can attempt to talk to the boss directly. Don't let your resentment overflow. If this is a repeated pattern, be calm. Just have clear in your mind the point you want to get across--and the desired action you want.

Keep track of all your ideas in writing.

Also try other ways to keep your name out there--be a guest blogger, maybe, or speak at a function.

Your last resort is to request a transfer. This can have many unexpected consequences.

The worst case of this I  knew of--funny now--was my boss back when I had a "real" job. Our boss above him had a real sadistic streak. They were preparing for a big meeting and I had included an unusual quote into my boss's speech. They rehearsed and rehearsed. When the meeting came, the big boss opened stealing my boss's quote...My boss was speaking next and his talk had been gutted.

Not the time.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The business pluses of gratitude

Kate Zabriskie, Government Executive Magazine, says thanking people in the business world will keep you from appearing "an ungrateful and uncouth toad." Don't you want to be a non-toad?

Whom should you thank?

--How about bosses who take time to support you, provide you an opportunity or include you?

--Thank "down"--to those on your team who stayed late to finish a project. Or put out extra effort some other way.

--How about customers? Thank them--without them you would not have a job.

--Or suppliers--don't you like on-time and pleasant relations?

--Thank the office cleaning staff. How about the cashier in the cafeteria? The security guard--he or she is there day after day.

What if you expressed gratitude once an hour--would your office be a better place? Someone might even thank you!

Other tips:

--Beyond a simple "thank you," sometimes you need to get specific, elaborate a little.

--Get personal. "You did a great job with Power Point today--I am never that confident with Power Point, I learned from you."

You can use email, a paper card (like the ones you used to send to Grandma), or just go out of your way to take the person aside.

My daughter works at Wendy's and you would be surprised how many drive-though customers take the time to go to the website, tinker around, and send her a compliment for her service. It means a lot. We have them on the wall.

By the way--thanks for reading this!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Shake, rattle and get rolling

Nick Morgan, author of Power Cues: The Subtle Science of Leading Groups, Persuading Others, and Maximizing Your Personal Impact" (whew long subtitle), writes in Forbes about how to climb out of a rut in the workplace.

He is building on the ideas of Cathy Salit, head of Perfomance for a Lifetime. And I am building on him.

First, embrace awkward growth. Be open to things you are not expert in or even have rejected in the past. If the world were unchanging, you would not need to get out of rut, but it isn't. Try something you feel incompetent at for a week or even a month.

Rebuild teams. We crave connection--we are human. Shake up the old approach. Can you think of one to shake today?

Listen anew. People don't listen--it's a lost art. Listening means getting feedback--evaluation. Paraphrase back what you heard. And try to be empathetic--try to "hear" what isn't being "said."

Create from complaints. Take a disaster and turn it on its head. Most people are good at complaining. Use those.

Improvise endorsement.  Rehearsing is sort of the opposite of improv, but practice using "Yes...and". Add to each idea you hear.

To me the biggest message here is take another look at something you rejected. Ever do that?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Here comes Star again--scolding

CareerBuilder did yet another survey on what you might be doing wrong in job hunting.

Debra Auerbach wrote it up.

She remarks that like on the show The Bachelorette, if you become too confident you know it all you might be a goner.

Basic pitches. The most common error is use the same generic resume and cover letter for everything. More than half of people don't customize their resume to each employer. Find those keywords in the job description--use them.

To Whom It May Concern. This phrase is SO over with. Never use it. Almost 84% don't even find out the manager's name. This is research that will pay off.

Cutting cover letter corners. Almost half--45%--don't even include a cover letter! This is your chance to humanize yourself and your desire for the job.

Bad followup. Thirty-seven percent don't even follow up--applications can get lost in the shuffle. No stalking, but after a week or ten days you can ask is there more information I can provide?

Thank yous. Sending a thank you note right after the interview is a way to make a good impression--good and rare--57% of applicants don't. This is your chance to be gracious, show you are pleasant to work with, and reinforce what a good employee you'd be.

You know all this--right? Do you do it?

Monday, August 1, 2016

Does the applicant have team skills?

I am a huge Vince Vaughn fan and watched that comedy THE INTERNSHIP about two older salesmen who go into Google's internship program and end up pulling together a team of misfits. It has its moments--funny and dumb.

Anyhow, someone had to decide these two had team-like possibilities despite being complete goofballs and older goofballs at that.

Lou Adler, CEO of the Adler Group, a recruiting firm, writing in Government Executive, July 26, 2016, says you can hire for motivation, hire for cultural fit, but asks how do you determine whether a person is a team player?

He says the most important interview question is: Can you please describe the most important team accomplishment of your entire career?

This could be managing a team project or being on an important team.

You might also have to answer follow-on questions:

--Who was on the team and what was their role?

--What was your assigned role--did this change?

--What were the objectives and were they met?

--Describe how the team was managed. Were you a part of this?

--Who did you influence the most--did you coach anyone or get coached?

--What would you change if you could?

--What was the biggest team problem?

If the applicant has thought about all this, he or she may be a good team member.

Think about it if you're an applicant--or an employer.

I am trying to pull together a team to make my one-minute cartoon trailer. I may start asking about other teamwork they have done as I talk to people.

In the movie, the two goofballs with more life experience tended to be more empathetic to their younger team mates and thus inspired their loyalty. And they were clearly a team of two.

The low point came when one goofball--Vince--screwed up on the computer (at Google!) and cost the team a win. Still, they stuck with him and even coaxed him back, where he, of course, found a way to use his sales skills to prevail.


Friday, July 29, 2016

Keywords key to successful resumes

Writing in the Kansas City Star, Diane Stafford emphasizes the importance of customizing your resume to each job--including the important keywords.

Most large and medium employers use applicant screening systems--software that culls resumes.

This software is looking for keywords that match words in the listing.

If the job description says "Work Experience," use those two words. Don't expect the software to know that "Work History" is the same.

The systems also "weight" keywords. If you have more high quality keywords, you get extra points.  A service called Jobscan can see if your answer matches up to the listing.

Also put important keywords in your social media--some employers look there for candidates.


--Use acronyms or abbreviation they system may not "know."

--Don't submit your resume as a PDF. Don't use tables or graphics. Don't use unusual typefaces.

--Worry too much about length--the software doesn't care like a human might.

And forget the old "trick" of hiding lots of keywords in "white text." That does not work anymore.

A lot of this used to apply to government applications--but now it has spread to many other sectors.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Schedule some "me" time at work

New research suggests that completely detaching from work at lunch can boost energy and make you more effective.

Thirty minutes of "me" time is all it takes.

Researchers at the Univ of Florida and Univ of Tennessee Chattanooga found that switching to active recovery activities such as exercise or volunteering can help you respond better to the demands of your job (Psychology, Health and Medicine Journal, third issue, 2016).

They looked at 38 early-career physicians from a teaching hospital in the southeast. Of this, 63.2% were male and the median age was 29.

The typical doctor averages an 80 hour week.

These were residents--a lot of stress, a lot of time in the hospital. They spent more time working than sleep and leisure combined.

Often they eat while listening to a lecture--still working.

These doctors had trouble detaching. Even watching TV did not refresh them.

Even if you only go to the gym for 45 mins--that time is for you.

Everyone needs to take care of themselves with some formula that works.

What's yours?

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Is 9-5 a thing of the past?

Matthew Tarpey, CareerBuilder, did a survey and 3 out of 5 workers think the old 9-5 workday is history.

Nearly half (45%) work on personal time. Half of the men surveyed said they work outside formal office hours, and 42% of the women. Sixty-eight percent of IT workers and 65% of sales professionals agree. (This can vary by industry.)

This is not just a Millennial thing. Sixty-five percent of older workers say 9-5 is dated, and only 42% of 18-24 yr-olds.

But--some may just say that. 60% of those over 55 said they don't keep working past quittin' time. This is 54% for younger workers.

Could be the younger workers are more attached to their mobile technology and when the office calls, they respond.

Older people may take the long view--the boss will still be there tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

You may be from the govt, but I don't feel helped

Frank Konkel, Nextgov, July 18, 2016, says the government is pretty rock bottom on customer satisfaction, according to a recent study by Forrester Research.

The report looked at 319 brands and quizzed 122,300 customers.

The government's average was "poor." The National Park Service rated the best--at "good."

Some agencies are managing the customer experience in a systematic way--or are starting to.

But others, no way.

Traditional banks, online retailers, and auto and home insurance rank the highest--and they only get an OK.

The White House recently made customer service a priority for agencies to pursue--A Customer Service Council is distributing best practices and sharing knowledge. Still in last place.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Drugs also a lethal threat to cops

She may not LOOK dangerous.
Police officers are also employees and workers and they face many hazards on the job, as the current newspaper headlines tell us.

Brian Escamilla, a forensic chemist at a health and safety consulting firm called NES, was interviewed recently in an ad for NES.

He was asked what synthetic drugs present the most threat to first responders. His answer was fentanyl, its analogs, and other synthetics. These drugs are extremely potent. Responders can be exposed to fentanyl and become ill. A drug called naloxone has to be given, but it must be done soon after exposure or respiration can be depressed, which can escalate to other serious or deadly results.

Also, the chemicals used to manufacture drugs can be flammable and explosive. Drugs labs can erupt.

First responders should wear protective clothing and take steps to avoid both drugs and the chemicals used to make drugs. Synthetic drugs can be in the air, in the person's clothing, or any surface nearby.

Police and fire departments need training in these areas (this could be the ad part).

This may not be a hazard in your workplace--but it is in the workplaces of others.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Is all your tech really helping you?

Don't toss all the old.
Does  your phone make you smarter? Does GPS do much a map can't do? Does your phone make you a photographer?

Jonathan Coopersmith, professor history at Texas A&M, says the technology of yore used to demand some skills to use it--skills you had to acquire, which made you smarter.

Many of the steps are eliminated in today's tech.

This has always been the trend for technology, but the pacee of this has accelerated. More people specialize in some skills and not others, more work is outsourced to technology, and more people can afford and acquire technology.

But it you learn to be a nurse, you may not learn to grow your own food--some skills are sacrificed to other skills. So we become more dependent on others for those other skills.

One drawback can be if the technology people depend on fails.

Case in point: Thte US Naval Academy is now teaching cadets how to navigate using a sextant. Just in case all the computers and GPS fail...

It is possible, Coopersmith says, to learn more about our technology and learn the basic skills of fixing and troubleshooting them.

Technology may make is more efficient and even smarter, but is it making us wise?

Good question. Even a wise one.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Lessons from your pooch

Come on, it'll be fun.
Ali Wunderman, Government Executive, says we can learn a lot about dealing with the boss--from our dogs.

Animals constantly communicate and adjust themselves in the hierarchies around them.

The author quotes Marc Bekoff, a professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology, at University of Colorado Boulder, when he says when animals play, they perform behavior used in other arenas--such as predation, aggression, or reproduction.

They constnatly assess their standing as they play. Dogs even do a "play bow." They lower their heads and stick up their rear ends--time to play, I don't want to eat you or fight with you.

This corresponds in the office to "Clarifying your interests."

Animals also play fairly. If they play too roughly they can be ostracized by the others.

Playing also establishes a tone. You can tell when an animal "checks out"--tail tucked, ears back. In a person this can be arms folded across the chest.

Let your instincts run the show. But remember, you still have some higher reasoning powers.

I would describe this as knowing when to quit or change tactics or even retreat.

You even hear the phrase "He or she came to play" in terms of negotiations. It could have deeper implications--ask your pet.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Rant on manners--from a friend

A friend of mine--like me--is not enchanted with today's manners in the workplace.

Here is some of what she wrote me:

Regarding simple communication etiquette: There ain't none no more, be it in the workplace or out and about in society or even among friends. And forget phones, emails, and mail. You'd think with everyone wanting to be so immediate in their connections that they'd be also concerned with manners. But no, none of them have mothers, or so it seems.

This reminds me of a pet peeve in the work place, she continues.  I'd walk to a co-worker's cube to ask or talk about a work-related issue. That person would have another guest talking to him/her in the cube's entry way or would be on the phone. I'd show up and wait to be acknowledged and then have the cube inhabitant say "I'll be with you in a moment" or "This is a non-work-related conversation, so we'll quit and I'll talk to you now" or something along those lines. 

It NEVER happened. I'd wait for a minute. Be completely unacknowledged. And return to my cube. Hey, if you don't care, I don't care. Too weird, really.

She also told me her ex used to nail people who interrupted rudely by saying, "Don't you have a mother?"

Apparently this reference to manners learned at a mother's knee went--WHOOSH--right over their heads.

The other day I read an interesting phrase: "We need less data and more information."

Maybe we should also say, "We need fewer communications tools and more communication."


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Groan--politics at the office

As opposed to "office politics," which is a good thing to tune into.

But Matthew Tarpey, CareerBuilder, says in this season politics is hard to avoid--it can range from tussles on Facebook to heated office chat.

In a recent survey, three in 10 employers have argued with a coworker over a candidate this season--and 1 in 5 workers.

These candidates are just so darn arguable!

For one thing, 50% of workers say their office is too politically correct, and 59% of employers feel the same?  What does that mean, though--it's wrong to downplay political opinion--too chicken, or something?

If you want to avoid political discussions (OK, fights), Lifehacker suggests:

Excuse yourself. Say you have a project to finish up. Walk away.

Change the topic. Try to segue back to a work issue.

Accentuate the positive. If talk turns negative--ask, "What is going well for you these days?"  If the person walks away after that, well, you are done with the conversation.

Hide. Put on your headphones. Work at home a few days. Or hide out in the office library or someplace.

Because the one thing you probably can't do--change anyone's mind.

Monday, July 18, 2016

A doc's office is still an office

Mary K. Pratt, writing in Medical Economics, says a new study of what physicians think of the electronic health record (EHR) and their computerized environment shows they are not thrilled.

Not only did they have a low opinion of the EHR, but the EHR was not making them more efficient.

The computerized provider order entry system (CPOE) was also not a hit.

"Unintended negative consequences," muttered one of the study's authors, a hematologist at Mayo.

The study was published in the July Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Only 36% of the 5,358 responding doctors using EHRs were satisfied or very satisfied, and 43.7% were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.


On the CPOE (where the docs write orders and send out prescriptions), 4,847 physicians responded and only 38.1% were satisfied or very satisfied, while 41.9% were not.

The same went for whether these systems improved patient care. Only 36% said yes, 41% did not think so.

Only 23% thought these systems improved efficiency.

The president of the American Academy of Family Physicians was not shocked. She herself, she says, would sit for 10-20 minutes watching the little spinning circle. She also thinks it's "heartbreaking" to turn her back on patients to type.

Docs also spend hour entering info into these systems.  Improvements need to come at a faster clip.

Efficiency can be improved by using medical scribes to enter info, having nurses answer patient emails, and other steps.

I once had an eye surgeon would not not type--or could not--I never knew. He used a voice system and while I sat there he would try to make the darn thing spell...He would go "try again," try again..."

It was ridiculous.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Please, companies, don't help us so much

Oh, they just want to help. Here is a new version of your software, of your whole operating system, look at this, a new modern webpage for your old bank you use everyday.

Chase Bank decided to "update" its website, apparently. I went on in a rush--I needed to be on a video conference--and WHAAA, where was the thingie to see my "messages"--they emailed me I had one.

I looked everywhere--bottom of the page, top, middle...could not even find their phone number--no click for Customer Service. Who has no Customer Service option?

I got the phone number from my address book, called, did all the secret handshakes with the robot (I cannot UNDERSTAND you....blah blah, OK, Robbie).

Finally I got a human by wildly pressing ZERO

I ranted and she soothed in some Eastern European accent. Finally she informed me that on the upper left there were three little parallel lines--click those. I did--there were all the options...

THREE PARALLEL LINES? Is this some arcane international code?

I was frantic.

I sure hope Chase Chairman Jamie Dimon enjoys his $27 million a year salary. I am not enjoying Jamie Dimon.